Hillary pledges AIDS funds if elected

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Senator Hillary Clinton pleased HIV and AIDS groups late last week by pledging that, if elected President, she will provide at least $50 billion for the fight against AIDS by 2013 and will “make significant progress toward providing an additional one percent of the U.S. budget to fighting poverty in impoverished countries.”

Religious and community leaders belonging to two groups, Iowans for AIDS Action and New Hampshire Fights AIDS, have been pressing presidential candidates to sign the “Presidential Pledge for Leadership on Global AIDS and Poverty,” though only Bill Richardson had signed before Clinton came on board.

“Senator Clinton has been working on a formal AIDS policy that she will be unveiling in the near future,” her campaign said in a statement released after she signed the pledge.

“She already supports investing $50 billion over the next five years to fight global AIDS and advocates a comprehensive approach to fighting AIDS both here and abroad.”

Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance Fund, which has been circulating the pledge, said:

“Senator Clinton is demonstrating the leadership we need to win in the fight against global AIDS and make our anti-poverty investments more cost effective.

“By signing this pledge, she builds on her strong record as an advocate on AIDS and global poverty.

“She is once again showing that she is prepared to deliver on the reforms we need to preserve America’s leadership on AIDS and related issues and restore America’s standing in the world.”

Although Zeitz said the U.S. has made impressive strides in the area of AIDS treatment in the past few years, “Keeping up the pace of the fight against AIDS, at home and abroad, while at the same time fixing those policies that are not working, is a moral imperative facing the next president.”

“AIDS kills 8,000 people a day, and we cannot try to fight it on the cheap,” Steve Howard, spokesperson for New Hampshire Fights AIDS, said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to see Senator Clinton taking this bold, forward-thinking stand. We also need to see the next President ensure full funding for science-based AIDS programmes in the US, to reach everyone at risk.”

In the past, Clinton co-sponsored bi-partisan legislation in the Senate to help African countries improve their health systems, which will help ensure aid can be fully and effectively used.

The pledge she signed on Friday includes a promise to “increase the number of health workers by at least one million, building local self-sufficiency.”

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